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11 February: Brian Edwards

John Studd introduced Brian and we include his introduction since it served to introduce much of what Brian told us:

What do Henry the Eighth and Winnie the Poo have in common?*

Brian and I have a sense of humour in common - it's quite a combative sense of humour and we rarely meet without an exchange of friendly insults.

Thus, when John Ide asked me to introduce Brian tonight, I decided that my best approach would be to spin the introduction out for half an hour or so in order that we only have to put up with Brian talking for five minutes at the end of the evening.

At this point John released a fan fold of several pages of A4 notes.

Brian was in the regular army, has an HNC in electronic engineering and an Open University degree and once taught A-level maths at St John’s College in Southsea. He has run a scout troop and a charity that raises funds for research into diabetes. At one time he ran the PACT food bank single-handed: now about 20 people are involved in running the Food Bank.

He is to be seen demanding money with menaces in the Square most Wednesdays and one day, when I tried to make a withdrawal of my earlier investment, was curtly refused.

He has a very strange collection hobby that we may hear about tonight. Brian collects walking sticks and has a couple of hundred - and often gives talks about this hobby.

You might notice that there are tins of tomatoes around the room: I couldn’t get hold of any rotten tomatoes for this evening but if you feel moved to respond to Brian’s talk with a barrage of tomatoes, please help yourself. Any undented tins will be donated to the Food Bank.

Don’t for goodness sake tell him this, but as I have got to know and insult Brian I have come to respect and admire him - and would say that I love the man!

Gentlemen, I give you deputy Field Marshal of The Salvation Army: Brian Edwards.

*They have the same middle name!

Brian went on to tell us how he had a gradual road to faith - no Damascus conversion! He came to run a scout troop when he commented that he could do a better job than the current leader - and ended up taking over!

He told us that one of the joys of standing in Rams Walk selling copies of War Cry was hearing snatches of conversations as people walk past him. Another is making friends with regulars, one of when has asked Brian to take his funeral! Since she is only three years older that Brian he wondered who would be doing who's funeral.

We were entertained by several of Brian's jokes, some of which can be found on the Funnies page.

Brian said that an important feature of his faith was that he goes OUT to the world to serve - and certainly he, and the rest of the members of Petersfield Salvation Army do this with great effect.